Sunday 19 November, 2017

UK steps up to help Overseas Territories ravaged by Hurricane Irma

The United Kingdom has stepped up to assist its Overseas Territories affected by Hurricane Irma.

In a release on Sunday. the Prime Minister announced a £32 million relief fund to support the humanitarian effort and the UK was the first country to arrive on the scene and the UK government is also doubling all public donations made to the British Red Cross appeal.  

The UK sent in troops to the Caribbean islands over the weekend to help maintain law and order as some of the islands such as the British Virgin Islands reported looting and civil unrest.:

"We continue to work flat out to help the people who have suffered so much in the Caribbean, particularly of course in our overseas territories, in Anguilla, in the Turks and Caicos, and above all in the British Virgin Islands where there’s been massive devastation," said Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

The UK Government itemised the assistance rendered to its territories.

  • A team of British humanitarian experts has been in the region for a week working with authorities and directing the humanitarian response.

  • In Anguilla, RFA Mounts Bay has:
    • delivered six tonnes of emergency aid
    • rebuilt and secured the Emergency Operations Centre
    • restored power to the hospital
    • reinforced shelters
    • cleared the runway at the airport (which is now serviceable)
    • cleared roads, including to the police station
    • provided further support in the British Virgin Islands  
  • HMS Ocean is also being deployed and will help with the reconstruction after the hurricane. Additional UK government staff are on standby to provide assistance once the hurricane has passed.

  • There are just under 500 troops currently in the region, made up of marines, engineers, medics and specialists, including Army and RAF personnel.

  • A C17, Voyager and A400M aircraft carried over 200 Royal Marines, as well as engineers and specialist personnel from all 3 Services. They have provided medical supplies and aid including 2.2 tonnes of UK aid shelter kits providing shelter for almost 1,000 people, rations and clean water. A total of 10,000 UK aid buckets and 5,000 solar lanterns have been dispatched.

  • Amongst those deployed were the 40 Commando Royal Marines and the 3 Commando Brigadiers, eight DFID humanitarian experts, 10 FCO Rapid Deployment staff as well as humanitarian experts funded by UK aid.

  • Two members of the UK police cadre, who offer support to the military in times of international crisis, flew out on Friday and a further 53 British officers, from 14 police forces are due to fly out on Sunday.  
  • The Ambassador to the US has deployed teams of staff at airports in the affected areas of the USA. They are providing advice and support to British nationals in Florida and issuing emergency travel documents.

  • The US Network is liaising closely with the US authorities to get British nationals to safety.

  • The Foreign Office has set up a hotline for those concerned about friends and relatives affected by the hurricane: +44 (0)20 7008 0000.  At their request, we are taking all emergency calls for the British Virgin Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands on this number.

To donate to the British Red Cross Hurricane Irma appeal visit: www.redcross.org.uk/HurricaneIrma or call 0300 456 4999.